The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 29, 2004 - 11
By Anne Uible
Daily Sports Writer
The No. 9 Michigan men's swimming and diving
team will make the short trip to Ypsilanti today for
its season opener against Eastern Michigan. The
Michigan program is very familiar with the Eagles
- the first meet dates back to the 1970-71 season
- but six Wolverines, including head coach Bob
Bowman, are meeting Eastern Michigan for the
This meet represents Bowman's much-antici-
pated debut on the college scene. He accepted the
position as head coach after the retirement of Jon
Urbanchek at the conclusion of last season. The
meet also marks the first chance for freshmen
Johnny Autstermann, Grant Burtch, Dane Grenda,
Dane Rook and Alex Vanderkaay to represent the
Maize and Blue in competition.
While Bowman did not have a role in recruiting
any of the five freshmen, he feels a special con-
nection with the swimmers.
"There's a unique bond that I will always have
with these guys," Bowman said. "They are my
first class of athletes and we will get to learn and
develop the program together."
Bowman is surprised and happy with how well
the freshmen have adapted in their roles as stu-
dent-athletes and the way they have bonded with
"The five guys have integrated well," Bowman
said. "I think that is mainly due to the active role
the captains have played this year."
While Bowman has had a great deal of coaching
experience with various teams around the country,
he believes what makes this freshman class stand
out is its desire to achieve.
"I think they probably have the most positive
attitude about the sport and what they want to
accomplish with it," Bowman said. "All five of
them have a lot of potential with their times and I
think they will make the most of their opportuni-
ties this year."
* MEN'xVCROSC OUNTRY
Harriers to battle
No. 1 Wisconsin
By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
It's five simple letters that spell one
simple word. But "simple" definitely
isn't the word that would describe the
task on hand for the No. 7 Michigan
cross country squad this weekend.
The Wolverines face their toughest
opponent as they will try to dethrone
No. 1 Wisconsin at the Big Ten
Championship in Iowa City.
One of the runners helping Michi-
gan attempt this lofty feat is the
source of the relaxation message -
redshirt sophomore Todd Iacovelli.
Iacovelli writes "relax" on his hand
before every race to calm him down.
But even he admits this isn't just any
"This is definitely one of the big-
gest meets of the year," lacovelli said.
"We go into practice with a little dif-
ferent mindset knowing we have Wis-
consin coming up."
The team isn't making any out-
landish upset predictions for the
weekend, though. The Badgers have
been the top-ranked squad all year
long and are the defending Big Ten
Champions. No. 13 Indiana also has
a history of strong showings at the
meet. Iacovelli warns about falling
into a trap of paying too much atten-
tion to other teams in the race, espe-
"We have to focus on what we're
doing during the race," Iacovelli
said. "They're obviously going to be
very strong, and if we concentrate
too much on what they are doing, we
could end up doing a lot worse than
"We can't run their race, we have
to concentrate on ourselves."
That's a goal for all runners, but
especially for Michigan's squad.
With two distinct packs of Wolverine
runners, not trying to do too much is
Nate Brannen has been leading
packs for the Maize and Blue all year,
picking up two Big Ten Athlete of the
Week honors in the process.
Michigan will be without Olym-
pian Nick Willis for the conference
championship. Willis suffered a
stress fracture in his right leg recent-
ly, and may not be able to compete
for three months.
But having a solid one-through-five
finish is the key to victory, and Iacov-
elli knows the rest of the Wolverines
must step up if they want to compete
with the nation's elite.
"The guys up front will take care
of business," Iacovelli said. "Nate is
a world-class athlete, but it's really
important that we get five guys across
the line before the 25-minute mark."
The 25-minute mark is a special
goal for Iacovelli. His career-best
time is 25:01, and he admits reaching
that mark is a big deal to him.
"It's huge," he said in regard to the
landmark. "I know I can hit the mark,
but it really depends on the flow of the
race and how the course is set up."
Making this mark at the Big Ten
Championship would be a great time
to do it for lacovelli. This is his first
time participating in a meet of this
level, and posting a personal-best
would certainly leave a great impres-
Knowing he has seven other team-
mates running in the second pack
with him should bring peace of mind
to lacovelli. But if he begins to doubt
himself, all he has to do is look down
on his hand for his own advice.
Michigan's Peter Vanderkaay hopes to make coach Bob Bowman's first year memorable.
In particular, Bowman points to- Vanderkaay
and Burtch as pivotal freshmen to watch over the
course of the season.
Vanderkaay, the younger brother of senior Chris-
tian and junior Peter, joins the Wolverines with an
impressive swimming resume most recently high-
lighted this summer by a 19th place finish at the
U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200-meter butterfly.
"Alex is a great addition to the team," Bowman
said. "He is the type of swimmer that is expected
to step up at the top level and perform well. We
have high hopes for him at the Big Ten and NCAA
Championships this year."
Burtch, a breaststroker from Holland, has also
compiled a list of impressive accolades that make
him a strong freshman leader this year.
"I'm already impressed with the progress Burtch
has made this season," Bowman said. "It will be
exciting to see him race."
While Bowman isn't particularly worried about
the competition, he is excited to get the chance to
see the team race, especially the freshmen.
"The meet will give us an opportunity to get a
baseline of performance to come back and work
on," Bowman said. "It's one thing to train day in
and day out and it's another to actually compete.
Racing puts everything together and gives us an
idea of what we are working with."
The meet starts today at 6 p.m. in the Michael J.
M' looking for conference three-peat
By Katie Niemeyer
Daily Sports Writer
The Wolverines may be watch-
ing their backs for the women's cross
country Big Ten Championship, but
the competition remains anonymous.
Michigan coach Mike McGuire is
so confident in junior Rebecca Walter
that he doesn't know the names of her
"We know that the Michigan State
girl and the Illinois girl were close to
her this past weekend," McGuire said.
"At the same time, I think Rebecca's
coming off some higher mileage than
she's ever done and I think with a bit
of a taper, I like her chances."
As the two-time defending Big Ten
Champion, Michigan is the team to
beat in Iowa City on Sunday. Michi-
gan has enjoyed a top-five ranking all
season long, and placed second at the
pre-national race on Oct. 16. Michi-
gan State was the next Big Ten finish-
er in that race, placing fifth, doubling
Michigan's point total 218-to-109. The
Wolverines know that it will all come
down to the day of the race and they
are ready for it.
"We're excited," McGuire said.
"We know we're the favorite and the
two-time defending champions. We're
not taking anybody for granted. We're
staying focused. I think if we run
the way we've been running, I think
there's a very good chance we can
defend our title."
If Michigan wants to come out on
top of the Big Ten, every runner will
have to run a competitive race. This is
especially true for Walter, the defend-
ing Big Ten Individual Champion.
Michigan State's Dannette Doetzel
and Illinois' Cassie Hunt finished six
and seven behind Walter's fourth place
finish at pre-nationals. After such a
close race, Walter feels that the key to
staying in front will be to stay focused
throughout the entire race.
"I think my mentality is always a
factor," Walter said. "Sometimes I'm
really on, and sometimes I'm not, and
I felt like I was losing a little mental
toughness in the middle of the pre-
national race. I know at Big Tens if
I'm not mentally on, things will go
According to McGuire, Walter
will set the tone for the entire lineup
so her race will be an important one.
But every Michigan runner will have
to run a fast race if the team is to
take the title. Seniors Sara Pizzo and
Andrea Parker, junior Katie Erdman
and freshman Alyson Kohlmeier all
ran strong races at pre-nationals and
have the ability to put Michigan on top
of the Big Ten.
"We have put all the work in that
needs to be done this season," Walter
said. "As long as they take it easy, let
their legs rest and just concentrate on
running right now, I think they'll all
do excellent. I think everyone in our
top seven has done an extraordinary
job and I think that's why we have
such a great seven - because every-
body's pushing for spots."
After a season of continued
improvement and tough competi-
tion, the Wolverines enter the Big Ten
Championship with a lot riding on
their shoulders. They have a title to
defend and a ranking to justify, and it
all comes down to one race.
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